iPhoneOgraphy – 25 Feb 2016 (Day 56/366)
A bell is a simple idiophone percussion instrument. Although bells come in many forms, most are made of metal cast in the shape of a hollow cup, whose sides form a resonator which vibrates in a single tone upon being struck. The strike may be made by a “clapper” or “uvula” suspended within the bell, by a separate mallet or hammer, or—in small bells—by a small loose sphere enclosed within the body of the bell.
Bells are usually made by casting metal, but small bells can also be made from ceramic or glass. Bells range in size from tiny dress accessories to church bells 5 metres tall, weighing many tons. Historically, bells were associated with religious rituals, and before mass communication were widely used to call communities together for both religious and secular events. Later, bells were made to commemorate important events or people and have been associated with the concepts of peace and freedom. The study of bells is called campanology.
The earliest archaeological evidence of bells dates from the 3rd millennium BC, and is traced to the Yangshao culture of Neolithic China. Clapper-bells made of pottery have been found in several archaeological sites. The pottery bells later developed into metal bells. In West Asia, the first bells appear in 1000 BC.
The earliest metal bells, with one found in the Taosi site and four in the Erlitou site, are dated to about 2000 BC. Early bells not only have an important role in generating metal sound, but arguably played a prominent cultural role. With the emergence of other kinds of bells during the Shang Dynasty (c. 1600 – c. 1050 BC), they were relegated to subservient functions; at Shang and Zhou sites, they are also found as part of the horse-and-chariot gear and as collar-bells of dogs.